One dentist’s 70th celebration = 1,500 miles + $18,000

The Barnabas Center’s Dental Program in Fernandina Beach, Florida supplied clients with 1,875 dental visits, restoring and maintaining smiles for 659 men and women in 2013.

With the help of newly retired dentist, Dr. Ken Owens, the Barnabas Center’s dental clinic at 1303 Jasmine St. will hopefully be able to assist even more patients in need of care.

Until May of this year, Owens treated patients with the Amelia Dental Group, which the 43-year practitioner founded. When he retired in May, he committed to work part time at Barnabas, but decided to first spend his 70th birthday on a 1,500-mile bicycle trip on the East Coast, according to a story in the Florida Times-Union.

Unbeknownst to him, his children organized a fundraiser in his honor which raised $18,000 that will help equip dental exam rooms at the new clinic.

“They decided to do the fundraiser to honor me and I was certainly honored,” Dr. Owens said, following his return. “… I was totally blown away and very honored and very proud of my children.”

Barnabas Center development manager Marla McDaniel told reporter Dan Scanlan that she is thrilled to have Owens volunteering to help at their dental clinic and amazed at the money his family raised to help equip those dental examination rooms.

“People can be in a great deal of crisis and come here and get the help they need and he will fit perfectly into that,” McDaniel said. “He is such a caring person and he and his wife donated to our building fund. They have been pillars in the community on a variety of charitable endeavors and he has loyal patients and they are stepping forward to donate.”

Founded in 1986 by parishioners at St. Michael Catholic Church, the Barnabas Center now serves about 5,000 people a year. That includes the low-cost medical and dental clinic.

Caption: Photo provided to jacksonville.com by the Owens family. Fernandina Beach dentist Ken Owens (right) and Arnold Bentley pause at the Florida welcome sign on U.S. 17 on their 1,500-mile trip along the East Coast.

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